Most people’s tradition for bringing in the New Year is to make a resolution: something like “I will lose weight,” or maybe even as specific as, “I will lose ten pounds.” I, personally, have never made New Years resolutions. Basically, I see it this way: what difference does one date on a calendar make? If you are not motivated to do something (or to stop doing something), you are not going to do it—end of story. It doesn’t matter what year, decade, or century it is, a smoker is not going to quit unless he truly and sincerely wants to quit and commits himself to quitting. A busy mom is not going to keep her house cleaner unless she consciously maps out a plan to accomplish this. The mere date of January 1st does not give people more motivation or ability to accomplish their goals than they already have, and if it does, that motivation is short lived. Just compare gym attendance between January and February for proof of that.
So, instead of looking forward to the new year and things I plan to do, I prefer to look backward at the year past and examine things I have done, particularly things that, at the time, were new and perhaps unexpected.
- Running the Pittsburgh Marathon. Yes, by January 1, 2009, I did “expect” to run this marathon, but in the scheme of, “did you ever think you would run a marathon?” this is a completely unexpected event in my life. As a child, I hated running. In my own words, “I don’t like running unless I’m chasing something or someone, or they’re chasing me.” I only ever ran for sports, and even then, when it was straight “around the track” running, I griped every second of the way. This year, I undertook three-and-a-half months of training and accomplished the full 26.2 miles without stopping or walking once. And I finished in 3:20:57, qualifying me for both the Boston and New York City marathons. Definitely new, and definitely unexpected.
- Travelling to Colorado. While I love to explore new places and plan vacations from time to time (e.g. my trip to Singapore in August 2008), I had no plans to go to CO until one of my bosses informed me that she had spoken with her supervisor and planned to send me to a three-day-long publishing workshop out in Denver. Not wanting to miss out on a perfect opportunity to explore, I contacted a high school friend who I knew was living out there. He graciously agreed to host me, and I spent two days after my workshop staying at the Shambalaya Mountain Center, taking hikes, learning about forestry, and drinking in the beautiful mountain landscape.
- Buying a bed. Believe it or not, this is my very “major furniture” purchase. I have never before bought any fixture that was as large or expensive as this bed. It was fully necessary, though, after sleeping on a too short rock-hard futon for six months!
- Texting. Not exactly an “accomplishment,” per se, but seeing as I didn’t even own a cell phone until the month before I graduated from college (May 2008), this was a considerable leap into the 21st century.
- Renting a car. In spite of still being under 25 years of age, the actual rental portion of this event went quite smoothly. Pay the $25 underage rental fee, cough up another hundred dollars for twelve thousand different kinds of insurance, add another $40 or so to buy gas at the dealership and/or fill up the tank at a nearby station, and you’re ready to go. The harrowing part is the drive and, if you are returning the car in a different city (as I was), figuring out where to return the car—and then how to get home! However, I now have this affair under my belt, empowering me with confidence and experience for the future.
- Competing in a Triathlon. Okay, it was a sprint triathlon, but seeing as I have abhorred bike riding ever since I was a child, even working my way up to ten miles of cycling for this race was an accomplishment. The 400m swimming + 10 miles biking + 5k (~3 mile) running = a race that, even one year ago, I never would have seen myself completing. Now, the big goal for 2010 will be to complete a full triathlon (Olympic distance is 1500m swimming, 40km biking, and 10km running, or in miles, approximately 1 sw – 25 bk – 6 run). Goal, though, not resolution!